A stunning sampler
Naxos has in the past few months released a number of excellent samplers of alternative classical music, all loosely based around a more or less unifying theme. Their latest offering in this vein is this collection of pieces written by eight composers who were born in 1938, which, on the musical evidence here, can be considered something of an annis mirabilis in 20th century music. Despite their shared chronological beginnings, these composers are as different from one another as night is to day. All the selections are, in a word, stunning, including the brilliantly sustained dissonance of Gloria Coates’ Symphony #15 (Third Movement), the chilly lyricism of John Harbison’s Piano Trio #1, and the mind-bending trance music that is Frederic Rzewski’s Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues. The icing on the cake is a bonus disc of interviews with all of the featured composers save two, in which they talk about their influences and the development of their individual styles. Their informative comments help contextualize the music and provide intriguing insights into the creative process.
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